Wembley Stadium awaits as we approach the second legs of this season's Sky Bet EFL Play-Off Semi-Finals, following some incredible first-leg drama.
It's all or nothing, and this is how things are shaping up...
Brentford v Bournemouth (0-1 after first leg)
No matter that their side are trailing 1-0 after the first leg, Brentford supporters need to look back just 10 months for inspiration and comfort ahead of the second leg at the Brentford Community Stadium. Thomas Frank’s side were in an identical position in last season’s Semi-Finals when they overcame Swansea City 3-1 to reach Wembley. Bournemouth will be equally confident, however, and will look to use their swift counter-attacking style which features the pace and close control of Arnaut Danjuma to put the tie beyond the hosts.
Swansea City v Barnsley (1-0 after first leg)
In three meetings this season, Barnsley are yet to score against Swansea. Valerien Ismael’s side will need to change that unwanted statistic at the Liberty Stadium if they are to maintain the club’s perfect record of reaching the final in all three of their previous Play-Off Semi-Finals. For Swansea, it is all about redemption. Last season they took a 1-0 lead secured by an Andre Ayew goal into the second leg at Brentford and lost. Ayew’s goal at Oakwell on Monday has them ahead again. The difference this time around is that Steve Cooper’s side will be in front of their own fans at the Liberty Stadium.
Blackpool v Oxford United (3-0 after first leg)
Records are there to be broken. That will be the mantra of Karl Robinson and his coaching team when Oxford travel to the Fylde coast. No side in the history of the Sky Bet League One Play-Offs has recovered from a three-goal first leg deficit to make it to the Final, let alone one conceded at home. Oxford managed the same number of attempts on goal as their opponents in Tuesday’s first leg, but Blackpool’s ability to counter-attack at pace with Ellis Simms looking to add to his two first-leg strikes could prove decisive.
Sunderland v Lincoln City (0-2 after first leg)
An even first leg at Sincil Bank was levered in Lincoln’s favour by two second-half goals, including an opportunistic Brennan Johnson charge down of a Lee Burge clearance. That goal could prove pivotal at the Stadium of Light where Sunderland will hope that luck shines on them more than it did on Wednesday evening. The Black Cats belied their nickname by striking the woodwork twice with the score at 0-0. Lee Johnson’s men will hope that fortune is allied to the bravery they will need to show in front of 10,000 passionate Mackems.
Forest Green Rovers v Newport County (0-2 after first leg)
Having ceded home advantage in the second leg because their Rodney Parade pitch was due to be replaced, Newport used Tuesday’s first leg as an opportunity to carve out a valuable 2-0 lead to take to Gloucestershire. Could Matty Dolan possibly replicate his thunderbolt of a strike which put the Exiles in front? Or will Aaron Collins reclaim the family bragging rights from younger brother Lewis, who scored Newport’s second goal? He will surely need help if Forest Green are to overturn their deficit and reach a first EFL Play-Off Final.
Morecambe v Tranmere Rovers (2-1 after the first leg)
Having not reached a Play-Off Final in 13 previous seasons as an EFL club, Morecambe seized a precious 2-1 lead from Thursday’s first leg on the Wirral. That was despite being outplayed for large parts of the game. Derek Adams’ men also know that no side picked up more Sky Bet League Two points or scored more goals at home than them this season. Tranmere’s dominance will surely fortify them for Sunday’s second leg, but they must improve their finishing if they are to make it to Wembley for a second time in three seasons.